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Role of Food Insecurity in Outbreak of Anthrax Infections among Humans and Hippopotamuses Living in a Game Reserve Area, Rural Zambia

By Mark W. Lehman, Allen Craig, Constantine Malama, Muzala Kapina-Kany’anga, Philip Malenga, Fanny Munsaka, Sergio Muwowo, Sean Shadomy, Melissa A. Marx

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Abstract

In September 2011, a total of 511 human cases of anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) infection and 5 deaths were reported in a game management area in the district of Chama, Zambia, near where 85 hippopotamuses (Hippopotamus amphibious) had recently died of suspected anthrax. The human infections generally responded to antibiotics. To clarify transmission, we conducted a cross-sectional, interviewer-administered household survey in villages where human anthrax cases and hippopotamus deaths were reported. Among 284 respondents, 84% ate hippopotamus meat before the outbreak. Eating, carrying, and preparing meat were associated with anthrax infection. Despite the risk, 23% of respondents reported they would eat meat from hippopotamuses found dead again because of food shortage (73%), lack of meat (12%), hunger (7%), and protein shortage (5%). Chronic food insecurity can lead to consumption of unsafe foods, leaving communities susceptible to zoonotic infection. Interagency cooperation is necessary to prevent outbreaks by addressing the root cause of exposure, such as food insecurity.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2017
Publication Title Emerging Infectious Diseases
Volume 23
Issue 9
Pages 1471-1477
ISBN/ISSN 1080-6059
DOI 10.3201/eid2309.161597
URL https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/23/9/16-1597_article
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Bacteria
  4. Health
  5. Hippopotamus
  6. Management
  7. open access
  8. Zambia
  9. Zoonoses
Badges
  1. open access